City of Philadelphia Invests in Innovative Workforce Solutions

Blue-Collar Workers© Robert Kneschke / Canva

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce recently announced its latest investments through the Workforce Solutions Grant, selecting four new organizations to develop innovative workforce solutions for local job seekers to prepare for and connect to sustainable career pathways that pay a living wage. The Workforce Solutions grant invests in programs from organizations that strive to elevate evidence-informed approaches to address specific challenges Black, brown, and other historically disadvantaged Philadelphia residents face when preparing for and entering the workforce. More information about the City’s investments in workforce development initiatives for Philadelphia residents and businesses is available here.

“The city’s poverty rate is at a 15-year low, and our municipal bond rating is the highest it has been in 40 years. Philadelphia’s continued growth will provide opportunities for our residents and future generations. Our Administration remains committed to accelerating economic opportunities that promote equitable growth,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The Workforce Solutions grant is another layer in our economic investments that can help boost employment opportunities for residents. Commerce staff is continuing to convene workforce partners that develop innovative programs to prepare local job seekers for career pathways within our growing industry sectors.”

“The Workforce Solutions Grant is one of our vital investments to prepare and connect talent to world-class industry sectors including Life Sciences, Tech, and Advanced Manufacturing. Our work aims to address the talent needs of employers, increase access to workforce training opportunities for residents and to grow the economy,” said Anne Nadol, Commerce Director. “We are very grateful for the opportunity to consult with our citywide partners including employers, workforce development organizations, Chambers of Commerce, and City Council for feedback as we develop various initiatives. Together, we envision a workforce system that is more coordinated in its inclusive and innovative growth strategies.”

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The Department of Commerce’s Workforce Development Division is focused on connecting Philadelphia residents to careers in growth industries. This includes a focus on Philadelphians who lack a high school credential, as well as residents with limited digital proficiency, lack of foundational employability skills, and/or those in need of industry-recognized credentials.  Across our portfolio of initiatives, the City is committed to ensuring our work elevates, prioritizes, and serves the needs of Black and brown and other historically disadvantaged Philadelphia residents.

“The past three years of investing in organizations that develop innovative workforce solutions through the Workforce Solutions Grant advances equitable workforce development opportunities with the goal of positioning Philadelphia as the talent hub of the future,” said Gianna Grossmann, Senior Director of Workforce Development, Office of Business Development and Workforce Solutions.  “The Workforce Solutions team looks forward to partnering with this new cohort of awardees to support them in connecting Philadelphians to sustainable careers in Tech, Human Services and Life Sciences. We are excited to see these programs provide individuals with the tools needed to enter the workforce and continue to diversify the talent pipeline in these fields.”

The following four organizations have been selected to receive a combined one million dollars in funding through the Workforce Solutions Grant with efforts to begin in March 2023.

  • University City Science Center (UCSC) will use the funds to expand their Building an Understanding of Lab Basics (BULB) programming. BULB is a hands-on lab training program with four week-long sessions. During the training sessions, participants are also preparing to seek employment in the life sciences industry. Through the Workforce Solutions Grant, the University City Science Center will have the opportunity to expand their program evaluation efforts which will in turn help the program continue to grow, serve more Philadelphia residents, and share lessons learned with partner organizations. The University City Science Center was awarded $200,000.
  • Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc.  will use the funds to expand their Human Services Pathway Program and partnership with Peirce College. The Human Services Pathway Program enables students to obtain the industry-recognized Strengths-Based Family Worker (SFW) credential from Temple University-Harrisburg. The SFW credential was created by Temple University Harrisburg and uses a competency-based curriculum. The partnership strengthens the pathway to associate and bachelor’s degree attainment by providing additional college credits and expanding course offerings. Through the Workforce Solutions Grant, Congreso de Latinos Unidos will continue to expand and innovate its curriculum that further aligns with the needs of employers. The goal is to prepare their program graduates for a diverse array of career paths and opportunities. Congreso de Latinos Unidos was awarded $200,000.
  • Per Scholas – Philadelphia will use the funds to provide free technical and professional skills training and job placements services to learners. Per Scholas training tracks are built around the needs of the employers they partner with, ensuring that the training meets employer and industry needs. The courses are full-time adult learning experiences ranging from 12-15 weeks to prepare graduates to enter IT support, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and software engineering roles. A substantial portion of the training covers real-world application of business professional skills, including communication skills, personal brand growth, conflict negotiation, networking, and collaboration. Per Scholas was awarded $500,000.
  • Community College of Philadelphia will use the funds to address the workforce shortage in the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) sector – primarily for Manufacturing Associate 1 and Aseptic Technician positions. The proposed training develops a prototype that could be scaled and expanded to address the skilled workforce shortage in CGT and other sectors. Students in this program will receive 10-weeks of training that will lead to a two-week internship in the industry. Community College of Philadelphia was awarded $250,000.
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“Commerce works with partners to make Philadelphia a great place to do business. We aim to attract international and domestic companies while supporting the expansion of those that are already here. This includes convening workforce partners for quality job opportunities across all business sectors,” said Dawn Summerville, Deputy Commerce Director, Office of Business Development and Workforce Solutions. “Philadelphia is filled with world-class growth industries including but not limited to Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing, Creative Economy, Innovation and Technology, and Trade. The Workforce Solutions Grant helps advance access to work readiness in Philadelphia.”

The Workforce Solutions Grant is a key initiative that began as part of the Workforce Respond and Recharge 2021 Commitment, which is a collaborative effort by the City, led by the Department of Commerce, along with its workforce development partners including Philadelphia Works and PIDC. More information about the City’s investments in workforce development initiatives for Philadelphia residents and businesses available here.

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